Craftsmanship Essentials: Must-Read Books to Hone Your Skills

Drawing and painting are among the defining characteristics of the human species. They are also among the first forms of expression too.

Learning to draw is one of my best childhood memories. Those moments when you start your first steps throughout unknown but exciting experiences. To get knowledge, and discover new things.

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: The Definitive, 4th Edition
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Edwards, Betty (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 318 Pages - 04/26/2012 (Publication Date) - TarcherPerigee (Publisher)
Drawing for the Absolute Beginner: A Clear & Easy Guide to Successful Drawing (Art for the Absolute Beginner)
  • This inspiring book makes drawing in a realistic style easier than you may think and more fun than you ever imagined
  • Author: mark and Mary Willenbrink
  • Made in china
  • Mark Willenbrink (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
How to Draw What You See
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • De Reyna, Rudy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 303 Pages - 09/07/2011 (Publication Date) - Watson-Guptill (Publisher)
You Can Draw in 30 Days: The Fun, Easy Way to Learn to Draw in One Month or Less
  • Kistler, Mark (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages - 01/04/2011 (Publication Date) - Da Capo Lifelong Books (Publisher)
Drawing the Head and Hands
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Hardcover Book
  • Loomis, Andrew (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 160 Pages - 10/25/2011 (Publication Date) - Titan Books (Publisher)
Drawing People: How to Portray the Clothed Figure
  • Size: 14 Inch x 17 Inch
  • Hardcover Book
  • Bradley, Barbara (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 176 Pages - 10/27/2003 (Publication Date) - F+W Media (Publisher)
Draw 50 Animals: The Step-by-Step Way to Draw Elephants, Tigers, Dogs, Fish, Birds, and Many More...
  • Ames, Lee J. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 64 Pages - 05/08/2012 (Publication Date) - Watson-Guptill (Publisher)
Keys to Drawing
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Dodson, Bert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 08/15/1990 (Publication Date) - North Light Books (Publisher)

“Drawing used to be a civilized thing to do, like reading and writing. It was taught in elementary schools. It was democratic. It was a boon to happiness.”

Michael Kimmelman

Moreover, Creative activities like drawing help us escape the monotony of our everyday life. Many therapists highlight the importance of having at least one creative project to help liberate your artistic inspiration and to tap into your hidden artistic abilities.

“I sometimes think there is nothing so delightful as drawing.”

Vincent van Gogh

Anyone can learn to draw! All you need is a pencil, a piece of paper, and some creative and cool drawing ideas.

Learning to master a skill like drawing can be challenging at the beginning, but achievable. Yet, the best way to learn a new skill as well as finding your own artistic style is by practice and repetition.

“In drawing, nothing is better than the first attempt.” 

Pablo Picasso

Best How to Draw Books

Many information and books on traditional and digital drawing methods are available to guide you. But you should learn the traditional types of drawing and painting before starting digital methods.
I’ve done the tough work for you and found many of the best drawing books. Either you’re starting out to draw, or you’re a long-time artist seeking to refresh your skills, these excellent books will help you.
Check out those excellent books below.

1. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards - How to draw book

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is one of the best how to draw books. Artist and author Betty Edwards proposes many drawing exercises to learn how to get better at drawing and theoretical knowledge about brain capabilities. The book was translated into more than 17 different languages.

Inside the book you’ll get:

  • First Steps in Drawing
  • Perceiving Spaces
  • Drawing on our Childhood Artistry
  • Perceiving Lights, Shadows, and the Gestalt
  • And more …

2. Drawing for the Absolute Beginner by Mark and Mary Willenbrink

Drawing for the Absolute Beginner by Mark and Mary Willenbrink - How to draw books

If you want to master the skill of drawing in a realistic style, this inspiring book is what you need.
Authors Mark and Mary Willenbrink show you how to choose materials and the right technique to use a pencil, how to use proportions and perspective, and many other skills, the right way.

You’ll learn:

  • Holding the Pencil
  • Structural Sketches
  • Value Sketches
  • Using Basic Shapes
  • Light effects
  • Plotting Shadows
  • Understanding Linear
  • Measuring Angles
  • Contrast
  • Landscape

3. How to Draw What You See by Rudy De Reyna

How to Draw What You See by Rudy De Reyna - How to draw books

This timeless book by Rudy De Reyna has been a best-seller for over 35 years!
As introduced by the author, this book will teach you how to draw things as you see them in the real world. Generations of artists have learned to draw what they see, guided by this excellent book.

How to Draw What You See is one of the best books on drawing that will help you recognize the basic shape of objects and forms in nature and everywhere.
Inside you’ll find:

  • Drawing Straight Lines
  • Drawing Lines Freehand
  • Holding the Pencil
  • Judging Size RelationShips
  • Basic Forms and Their Relationship
  • Creating a Composition
  • Composition and Construction

4. You Can Draw in 30 Days: The Fun, Easy Way to Learn to Draw in One Month or Less

You Can Draw in 30 Days: The Fun, Easy Way to Learn to Draw in One Month or Less

With Emmy award-winning, longtime PBS host Mark Kistler as your guide, you’ll learn the secrets of sophisticated three-dimensional renderings, and have fun along the way–in just 20 minutes a day for a month. Inside you’ll find:

  • Quick and easy step-by-step instructions for drawing everything from simple spheres to apples, trees, buildings…
  • Time-tested tips, techniques, and tutorials for drawing in 3-D
  • The 9 Fundamental Laws of Drawing to create the illusion of depth in any drawing
  • 75 student examples to help gauge your own progress

5. Drawing the Head and Hands by Andrew Loomis

Drawing the Head and Hands by Andrew Loomis - How to draw book

This classic drawing book is a reference to anatomy despite its age. There’s a ton a lot of info inside. You’ll learn how to draw portraits as well as hands, with solid drawing fundamentals.
You’ll understand the principles behind drawing realistic portraits.
Andrew Loomis’ clever method, will help you master the skill of drawing realistic portraits.

6. Drawing People by Barbara Bradley

Drawing People by Barbara Bradley - How to draw book

In Drawing People, award-winning illustrator and instructor Barbara Bradley provide all the information you need to render clothed human figures with energy, detail, and control.
If you’re looking for the best figure drawing books, Drawing People will teache you very practical basics of any drawing, including proportion, perspective, and value.

Inside you’ll discover:

  • Drawing from a model
  • Drawing in a Sketchbook
  • Drawing in Your Studio
  • Proportion and Perspective
  • Value-Rhythm and Continuity

7. Draw 50 Animals: The Step-by-Step Way to Draw Elephants, Tigers, Dogs, Fish, Birds, and Many More

Draw 50 Animals: The Step-by-Step Way to Draw Elephants, Tigers, Dogs, Fish, Birds, and Many More

Draw 50 Animals is a step-by-step, easy-to-use drawing book by Lee J. Ames that will help kids and adults alike develop their technical drawing skills and build a repertoire of an animal subject.

You’ll learn how to:

  • 50 Animals
  • Draw 50 Birds Draw
  • 50 Baby Animals Draw
  • 50 Cats  Draw
  • 50 Dogs

8. Keys to Drawing

Keys to Drawing - How to draw book

With his book Keys to drawing, Bert Dodson gives you the fifty-five “keys” of drawing fundamentals. Even if you’re a beginner you’ll learn how to render any subject with ease.

These useful keys will help you learn how to think when you draw, along with practical exercises, will help you draw like a skilled artist.

“Anyone who can hold a pencil can learn to draw.”  Bert Dodson

You’ll learn how to:

  • Restore, focus, map, and intensify
  • Free your hand action, then learn to control it
  • Convey the illusions of light, depth, and texture
  • Stimulate your imagination through “creative play”

“One must always draw, draw with the eyes, when one cannot draw with a pencil.”


Another effective and convenient way to learn drawing is by online courses, and video tutorials.

  • Video tutorials will give you a walk-through and faster understanding.
  • Books, on the other hand, will give you a solid knowledge, the base upon which you can build something at your own pace.

Use those two methods combined can give you better results.

Learn how to draw a dog with this easy step by step tutorial –  The best tutorials to learn how to draw

Subscribe to Proactive Creative Youtube channel to get more tutorials like this.


Wich one of these books you’ll read at first? Share your experience with us!

Here are some drawings I have done using the techniques learned from the books above!

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this post in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, Proactive Creative may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.


Outmane is the founder of Proactive Creative. He is an artist/designer.

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